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Medicinal Plants

by: Thomas S.C. Li

Lancaster PA: Technomic Publishing Co. 2000, $134.00, Hardbound

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(1) page(s): 21 and 22

Responding to ever increasing interests in and use of herbs and essential oils, this newest approach presents more than four hundred items in a multi-billion dollar business; and it is on the mark. It provides tabular chapters loaded with valuable information for manufacturers, researchers, producers, and everyday folk who want solid information.

The plants, more commonly called herbs are here called 'medicinal plants.' They are honestly detailed in terms of major constituents and medicinal values. Listed are their biologically active chemical components. Discussed is that many are collected from the wild and therefore unpredictable. Why, because significant differences in weather, pests, and other impacting variables change the bioavailability of their components

This book is not for reading but rather for searching. It is loaded with data and detail, most in alphabetic tables by scientific name. In chapter order, each with a page or two of explanatory materials, they detail scientific and common names, constituents and medicinal values, toxicity (from lethal effects to minor body reactions), value-added products and possible usage. They also provide origins of the medicinal plants and their life cycle, various plant forms, propagation, growing sites, planting space, and major diseases–including the pathogen(s) of each.

Some books have only a few references. Not so this one; select from the six hundred and sixty-eight. What a marvelous resource. Then there are the appendices with lists of major constituents and their sources, essential oils and theirs, a list of common and scientific names, and a cross-referenced index. The preface correctly advises that the book is primarily for reference and education, and is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. It does not, but I will advise that the Canadian author is one of the world’s most knowledgeable medicinal plant researchers. Enjoy this organized and accurate information. It is an amassed selection of medical practitioner research done in China and other countries, and it is one fine compilation.

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